Random person: “Oh, you’re pregnant! Is this your first?”
Me: “No, my third.”
Random: “Oh, how sweet. I love kids.”
Me: “That’s nice. I don’t.”
Let me rephrase. I do love kids – two kids. Specifically, my own two kids. I’m sure I’ll love number 3 as well. And, yes, I am fond of my nieces and nephews. And I suppose, if pushed to do so, I could come up with a few other kids I find likeable.
But “love kids” generally? No way in hell.
Just off the top of my head, in fact, I can think of a few kids who I – well, I suppose it’s not kosher to say that I “hate” them. After all, as a mother, I’m supposed to be understanding, empathetic and overflowing with love. But Always-Screamy-Annoying-Girl-At-My-Kids’-Fencing-Class-Who-Lacks-Any-Sense-Of-Manners-Or-Sportsmanship? And Kid-I-Saw-Throw-A-Bag-Of-Cheetos-At-His-Mom’s-Head-In-The-Supermarket? I wildly dislike you both.
“Loving kids” is something people do when they don’t have any. Or, alternatively, people often love kids when they have the absolute bare minimum of contact with them.
Let’s break it down. People who “love kids” – all kids, not just their own – fall into one of two categories. One category, I completely understand. And the other is an inscrutable, admirable mystery to me.
A) Someone who wants more contact with children.
Women who want children “loving kids”? Yes, I get this one. Or how about a grandparent in an assisted living facility who wishes they saw their little grandkids more often? That’s really nice. These people look at the world around them and they see children who are attractive, clean, and smiling. I feel certain that when they think about children, they are contemplating ones who know, and use, the words “thank you” and “please.” Not ones who, like my son, tell you as you’re wondering what all the crap on their bedroom wall is, “Oh, Mommy, don’t clean it. That’s my booger wall. I’m trying to collect as many as I can.” Nice.
Most things tend to look good from a distance. That picture that comes in the picture frame, for example, of the little child with the bonnet gazing off into a field of flowers – that looks pretty good. She’s so cute and pretty you want to leave it in the frame and forget about your own family picture you’d planned on putting in there. Little do you realize that between takes, she’s pulling a total diva act and insisting on sippy cups full of sparkling Martinelli’s apple cider in her trailer.
B) Nursery school and kindergarten teachers.
Remember how I was discussing horrible, awful jobs a few blog posts ago, like giving pap smears to rats? Well, these jobs aren’t quite at that level, but they are still pretty low on my list. I admire the hell out of these people – in the suburban, peaceful context of my life, these are basically the equivalent of Navy SEALS.
Lest you think I’m indulging in hyperbole, let’s focus on the sheer amount of crap these people have to put up with, each and every weekday.
Show me a mother of a 3-year-old who hasn’t, at least once, breathed a sigh of relief when they’ve dropped off their child at nursery school, and I’ll show you a liar. Now imagine a workplace where, every day, you have to greet 15-20 3-year-olds you’re not related to, and entertain them/keep them from biting each other. For the WHOLE DAY. Note: many will be in a poor mood and will insist on spreading that mood to the other children. Some will carry potent viruses and feel no qualms about projectile vomit. Eventually, the day comes to an end. Oh, and then? Then, you’re subjected to a half hour phone call from Jamie’s mom, who wants to discuss why Jamie is truly a special child and the fact that he has kicked three kids black and blue doesn’t show that he’s a bully, but rather, that he’s misunderstood.
That’s sick. But these people love their jobs. I have met incredible women who have taught my children. These women are more patient than I could ever be, kind and compassionate. Basically, they are a higher life form.
In contrast, I know my limits. I love locally.